Former England international Paul Sykes is looking forward to facing former club Bradford Bulls in Sunday’s Championship clash at Big Fellas Stadium.
The 33-year-old ex-Bradford and Wakefield Wildcats goalkicking stand-off has quickly settled in at Featherstone Rovers after joining them on a two-year contract.
Sykes, who has been appointed joint club captain with Tim Spears, has helped Rovers win their opening two league games against Hunslet and Doncaster but he knows Bradford will provide the sternest test so far.
“It will be a massive test for us,” said Sykes, who made 110 appearances in two spells with the Bulls.
“I know some of the boys at Bradford from when I was there and they’ve a good team and a big squad.
“Their new coach Jimmy Lowes is as tough as old boots. He will still be smarting from the defeat against Leigh in their first league match and he’ll see this as the next big game for them.
“Bradford, Leigh and London are all full-time but we’ve got the right type of players who can do a job on teams.”
After playing for Wakefield in Super League last season, Sykes is adapting to the Championship.
He has partnered Aussie Sam Irwin and Frenchman Remy Marginet at half-back in Featherstone’s first two games.
“It’s a lot more physical playing in the Championship,” added Sykes.
“It’s maybe not as a fast as Super League but you’ve got to work hard to achieve what you want to do.
“I’ve played alongside a couple of different halves so far because we’ve had a few injuries.
“We’ve been a bit rusty in the first couple of games and it’s just things we are learning, especially myself being new to the Championship. “We’ve just got to work hard in training on our combinations and be a bit more patient with the ball.
“Some people say defence wins you games and I think we showed that at Doncaster last Sunday. Doncaster are a tough team and it showed in the scoreline. It was tough battle in the forwards and I’ve got to take my hat off to our pack because they were massive for us. They set a great platform for all our go forward.”
Sykes is pleased Rovers have signed 25-year-old Marginet on a permanent basis until the end of the season after he initially joined them on trial.
“Remy fits in well with the lads. He’s quick and skilful and I think that’s what we’ll need in this league,” said Sykes.
“It will increase competition for places. We now have a few half-backs and it will keep us all on our toes and hopefully on top of our game.”